Winter has officially settled in ’round these parts. The trails are snowed in and finally ski-able, and the mercury regularly bottoms out below zero at night. Only a few intrepid souls venture out on their bikes after dark and about 99.9% of those are commuters coming home from work, or folks running short errands. But in cities around the Midwest, there are small bands of folks out on rides just to ride.
Madison didn’t originate the Wednesday night ride, but we’ve certainly embraced it. Last night with its steady snow fall, gusting winds and single digit temps was no different. At 7 pm sharp, some roustabouts showed up at my house and coaxed me away from a good book and a warm radiator with the promise of some fresh tracks and quiet streets.
The four of us rolled around aimlessly for a bit, mostly trying to stay out of the wind, trying to decide where to ride. I was wearing so much wool, I could barely pedal, but I was warm, and content to just be outside. We probably rode all of 5 miles the whole night, touring some clandestine and obscure alley cat check points and climbing some huge snow piles just because.
We ended up at the local frame building collective where we stood around a propane heater and discussed gear inch ratios, new Reynolds tubes and cans vs. bottles. Another rider showed up with some still warm, just baked, cookies and soon we were pretty cozy. The conversation turned to plans for spring races, bonfires and impending moves to warmer locales.
A few hours later as I was pedaling the couple of miles back home, the city was totally hushed by the snow, and its skyline glowed dimly ahead of me. I don’t know who started the Wednesday night ride tradition, but I’m sure glad it’s caught on in Madison.